Two Harbors City Council expected to call mayor’s recall election – Duluth News Tribune

TWO HARBORS — The Two Harbors City Council is expected to request a recall election from Mayor Chris Swanson during Monday’s session.

City officials on Wednesday approved Swanson’s recent recall petition after confirming that 532 of the 618 signers were eligible voters in Two Harbors. That’s more than the 498 signatures — 20% of the city’s registered voters — required by the city’s charter for a petition to move forward.

On Monday, the petition goes to the city council, which then has to schedule a new election.

“The function of the Council under the Articles of Incorporation is to call an election for recall … The Council has no obligation to find wrongdoing or wrongdoing; this is a matter for the public,” says the summary of the agenda item.

Recall efforts have been spurred by Swanson’s underwater hotel and cryptocurrency pursuits, and other potential conflicts of interest and ethical concerns that have come to light.

In a memorandum of opinion, prosecutor Tim Costley wrote that Swanson had repeatedly used his official position in the city “for personal gain or business interests” on a range of issues, the News Tribune reported in March.

The recall resolution on Monday’s agenda calls for an Aug. 9 recall election, which is also the primary. Because this is a new election year, it is the earliest year that a recall election can be scheduled.

A recall election will not be scheduled if Swanson resigns before 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 31. If he chooses not to resign, “he may submit a statement of no more than five hundred (500) words explaining his position on the reasons for the recall,” the resolution reads.

Swanson has previously said he will not be stepping down.

This is the second such petition calling for Swanson’s resignation. The first collected nearly 1,000 signatures, but organizers withdrew it after a lawsuit claimed it misled signers by promising the signatures would not be published or seen by Swanson. The group then collected more than 600 signatures in five days with the full understanding that the signatures will be public.

On Friday, Lake County Republican leader Tim Jezierski, along with Jane and John Doe, refiled their lawsuit to overturn the recall request.

Like the original lawsuit filed last month, it argues that the petition did not define “misconduct” and that the petition “does not affirm Minnesota law.”

It then goes on to claim that interim city manager Joel Dhein “conspired to secretly hide this motion with city clerk Patricia Nordean from the city council” until May 18, 2022, even though he received the petition on May 12.

Dhein did not immediately respond to the News Tribune’s request for comment Friday afternoon.

The lawsuit names five of the organizers of the recall; the Recall or Resignation Committee; the city of two ports; Two Ports City Council; Your; and Nordean.

Swanson is not a party to the case; However, Brendan Tupa, a Bloomington, Minnesota-based attorney representing Jezierski and the Does, sent cease-and-desist letters to the Duluth News Tribune and Duluth Monitor over their coverage of Swanson in late March. In those letters he wrote, “My law firm has been retained by Christopher Swanson to investigate and take legal action against you” and the respective news organizations.

Cynthia Kosiak, an organizer and attorney for the Recall or Resign Committee, told the News Tribune Friday that the group expects the lawsuit to be refiled.

“We are not concerned that there will be any real disruption to what is happening from now on,” Kosiak said.

Earlier this month, the City Council voted unanimously to hire an outside law firm, Charles Nauen of Minneapolis-based Lockridge Grindal Nauen PLLP, to represent himself and his associates. The company’s services will cost the city $395 an hour, Dhein said in an email to the News Tribune on May 4.

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